Dynamic Capabilities: A Definition, Visualization, and some References

The PhD program I am enrolled in is called ‘Dynamic Capabilities and Relationships’. One question I hear frequently from both colleagues and friends is: What are these dynamic capabilities? This post aims at providing a definition, a graph, and some references that I can refer people to when I hear this question again in the future.

Dynamic capabilities have emerged as a major stream in the field of strategy research over the past 15 years (Eisenhardt and Martin, 2000; Hodgkinson and Healey, 2011; Teece, Pisano, and Shuen, 1997). They are defined as “the firm’s processes that use resources – specifically the processes to integrate, reconfigure, gain and release resources – to match and even create market change. Dynamic capabilities thus are the organizational and strategic routines by which firms achieve new resource configurations as markets emerge, collide, split, evolve, and die” (Eisenhardt and Martin, 2000, p. 1107). At their core, the development of dynamic capabilities is the response of strategy researchers to an ever-changing world. Continue reading Dynamic Capabilities: A Definition, Visualization, and some References

Building Theories from Case Study Research: A Mind Map

I am planning to use a case study approach for my next piece of research. Some of the key references for this type of study are Yin’s (2008) book on design and methods as well as Eisenhardt’s (1989) article on theory building. I’ve created a mind map of the latter article for personal use, however I’m happy to share it with you. I hope you do find it useful. If you’ve got suggestions for improvements, please drop me a line.


  • Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 532-550.
  • Yin, R. K. (2008). Case study research: Design and methods. Sage Publications, Inc.

How to Hit the Enterprise 2.0 Bullseye by @amcafee

I mentioned Andrew McAfee and his book ‘Enterprise 2.0’ in an earlier blog post and would like to come back to him now. In Chapter 4 of his book, Andy introduces the notion of the Enterprise 2.0 Bullseye (see below graph). The logic of the bullseye builds on Granovetter’s (1973) and Burt’s (1992) work on the strength of weak ties and structural holes. Andy argues that the bullseye helps to focus Enterprise 2.0 efforts by distinguishing the different types of ties between people, or employees, and how these ties may be maintained or altered by the use of social software (which he calls ESSPs). Cooperation between close colleagues, or strong ties, may be facilitated by wikis, whereas social network sites are more suitable to maintain a large network of acquaintances, or loose ties. Blogs, in turn, are seen to be enablers for converting potential into actual contacts. Last but not least, there are forms of cooperation, for example in the case of prediction markets, when no tie between actors is present and yet the individuals involved can productively interact. There are a number of other studies that investigate the impact of ICT on social capital, yet Andy manages to match ties and technologies. This is an interesting step forward.


Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural holes: the social structure of competition. Harvard University Press.

Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American journal of sociology, 78(6), 1360.

McAfee, A. (2009). Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. Harvard Business School Press. 

A Special Report on Social Networking by The Economist

As a social scientist, I find it particularly thrilling to be working on a phenomenon that is very up-to-date. I am not looking at ancient data or analyzing people who have passed away a long time ago, but instead I focus on people’s behavior and attitudes in today’s world and their impact on how organizations conduct business. I was delighted to read this week’s special report on social networking by The Economist. Please find below my notes and a few thoughts on the report.

1. Networks facilitate creative endeavors

Social network sites allow people to connect to each other and swap relevant information. This is likely to enhance organizations’ creative potential and tap into the wisdom of the crowds. The days of specialist silos are long gone. Organizations can leverage their employees’ knowledge effectively by employing collaborative technologies.

2. The network effect & exponential utility growth

The network effect and resulting feedback loops have been observed with the introduction of a variety of techological inventions, such as the phone, the Internet, etc. It states that the value of a product or service increases as more people use it. The same is true of social network sites. The more people seem to use Facebook or Twitter, for example, the better and more nuanced the information we obtain on these networks.

3. Cluttering of social network sites

I have heard a number of people express worries about the plethora of sites that have recently sprouted. There are places for all kinds of interest groups. Staying on top of these developments is time consuming. What I expect to see more often in the future are portable identies, such as Facebook Connect, that allow their users to take their profile information from one site to another. This is a keynote presentation about Identity 2.0 by Dick Hardt, Founder and CEO of Sxip Identy. He makes this point very vividly.

4. Cultural change: openness & self-esteem

Another common concern regarding the use of social network sites is the loss of privacy. How much do people reveal about themselves on their online profiles. Do they give away too much personal information let alone proprietary company intelligence? In the interview, Martin Giles is being asked whether the use of social network sites even transforms personality. He speaks of a polarizing effect where celebreties, in particular, blow up their egos massively or become very humble through the use of social network sites. I have not come across any study that would confirm this hypothesis, however, the question of how the use of social network sites affects measures of self-esteem has been addressed before. The Journal of Cyberpsychology & Behavior is a good source for further references.

5. Is ‘Enterprise 2.0’ just a hype?

“In the business world there has also been much hype around something called ‘Enterprise 2.0’, a term coined to describe efforts to bring technologies such as social networks and blogs into the workplace.”

To my mind, this statement is a bit too playful. If you look at Gartner’s 2009 Hype Cycle Special Report, many of the quoted technologies have surpassed the point of inflated expectations. Blogging, Wikis and Social Network Analysis are now on their way to maturity. This argument can be backed by a couple of books that have recently been published, for example Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges and Niall Cook’s Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work.


via gartner.com

6. Social networking = social notworking?

“The executives’ biggest concern was that social networking would lead to social notworking, with employees using the sites to chat with friends instead of doing their jobs.”

Again, this is a question of how collaborative technologies are employed and what incentives are being used to engage employees. I have written about this earlier. A paper on the ‘Effects of feedback and peer pressure on contributions to enterprise social media’ has been published in 2009 by the Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and provides more references on the subject.

A Global Map of Social Web Involvement by @globalwebindex

via globalwebindex.net

Above you can see a world map of social media involvement. The study was conducted by Trendstream, a research consultancy. The map shows the popularity of different social media services around the world. Trendstream provides total user numbers and the national penetration rates.

What’s the most common pattern of social media engagement?

  1. Managing a social network profile
  2. Uploading photos
  3. Uploading videos
  4. Writing a blog
  5. Using a microblogging service

It is interesting to note that managing social network profiles and uploading pictures seem to be the more common activities regarding social media engagement. Many countries have penetration rates approaching or even exceeding 50 percent. Uploading videos, writing blogs, and using microblogging services are clearly niche activities with the majority of adoption rates being well below 20 percent.

What seems to stand out?

  • Japan’s low overall engagement is due to the high utilization of mobile devices, which have not been included, according to the authors. I feel this is a weakness of the study.
  • India leads the table in terms of photo uploads.
  • Brazil displays the highest rate of users maintaining social network profiles.
  • Russia has the highest rate of video uploads.
  • China counts the highest amount of bloggers.

I would be very interested in finding out why certain technologies are particularly popular in one country, but lag behind significantly in others. Why is blogging so popular in China? What’s the reason behind Brazil’s active usage of social networks? If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Social Media Strategy Framework by @rossdawson

via rossdawsonblog.com

I like the Social Media Strategy Framework because it focuses on objectives. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to listen to potential customers or better engage existing ones? Would you like to identify influencers and other key players in your market? You surely can do all of that but not every tools fits every pupose.

The Conversation Prism by @briansolis and @jess3

via theconversationprism.com

The Conversation Prism nicely brings together tasks, tools and (corporate) uses of social media. The number of different ‘leaves’ gives you an idea of how many different uses there are. The logos within each ‘leaf’ represent the various tools you could use to get the task done. Are you working on the same business report with your colleagues from around the world or sharing personal photos with friends and family? Do you want to keep in touch with old colleagues or expand your existing network? Would you like to start publishing yourself as I do now 😉 ?